The Difference Between Oxycodone And Hydrocodone: 2023 Detailed Guide

Difference Between Oxycodone And Hydrocodone

Oxycodone and Hydrocodone both are prescribed opioid medicines used for severe pain relief, like bone fractures, and major accidents. Both are popular medicines in the field of pain management medication. And to an extent, have somewhat common similar side effects and precautions. But that does mean they are similar in any sense. This blog will focus on the significant difference between Oxycodone and Hydrocodone and will help you understand the different aspects of these two pain relief medicines.

But before moving to the topic let’s understand what are Opioids.

What is Opioids?

Opioids are obtained from the poppy plant, but now they are made by humans also. It is a type of drug used to treat pain. Opioids bind their receptors in the brain and spinal cord and lead to the illusion of less pain in the body. Because of this pain relief property, it is used in the treatment of acute and chronic pain.

Both medicines(Oxycodone and Hydrocodone) are opioids which means derived from opium. Opium has the tendency to relieve pain but at the same time, it can be addictive in nature if not controlled. Opioids give a relaxed and happy feeling and have a higher chance of being addicted by using for a longer duration.

Oxycodone or Hydrocodone: Which one is best for you?

The ground of effectiveness for both opioids is your central nervous system. They nullify the pain signals that reach the brain. Oxycodone is found more potent than hydrocodone. This means less quantity of oxycodone is enough for the same effect as hydrocodone. That’s the main reason why Oxycodone is believed to be at a higher risk of abuse.

They both are different in the manner of side effects. Oxycodone has the tendency to cause tiredness while Hydrocodone leans more towards digestive problems and constipation. Apart from that they do have some common side effects too such as headache and nervousness. You could use these medicines for short-term duration or for long-term as per your doctor’s prescription. But you should be aware of its long-term side effects for example for a couple of months, you may be addicted to it, and it may be possible that they do not work after a certain period of time. It is strictly advised to be used only through a doctor’s prescription.

Both Oxycodone and Hydrocodone are very similar in nature but their effects depend on the person’s abuse history, weight, and the form of the medicine(whether it is an instant-release or time-release tablet).

Formulation of Oxycodone and Hydrocodone:

Oxycodone is released in both forms that are immediate and controlled-release forms and with a combination of acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen. Whereas Hydrocodone is used in the form of abuse-deterrent controlled-release capsules. It is available with Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen. Both Hydrocodone and Oxycodone are united with Acetaminopheplays to form the best pain relievers available in the market. The combination of Acetaminopheplays with Oxycodone is often referred to as Percocet, and the combination of Hydrocodone is known by the name Lortab, Norco, and Vicodin medications.

Difference in the Working of Oxycodone and Hydrocodone:

If we talk about Oxycodone it is semi-synthetic and derived from Opium Alkaloid, works only for pain not for cough. Hydrocodone on the other hand is semi-synthetic but derived from Codeine. It has a cough suppressant property in addition to pain relief. It is found in nonopioid analgesics like acetaminophen and is available in different formulations that can be used for abusive reasons.

Oxycodone when consumed orally, starts its mechanism by immediately dissolving in the bloodstream and aims to reach the peak plasma concentrations in the shortest time possible. The time medicine requires to dissolve in the blood depends on whether it is an immediate-release(IR) or extended-release(ER) formulation. The IR form takes around 1-2 hours to show its effect whereas the ER form can take up to 12 hours.

Hydrocodone primarily works by first binding itself to CNS and then activating mu-opioid receptors to produce analgesic and antitussive effects. This leads to the tricking of the brain into thinking that the pain has reduced.

Despite all the differences, both Oxycodone (C18H21NO4) and Hydrocodone (C18H21NO3) are typically the same in structure. The only minute difference is for one atom of oxygen present in Oxycodone.


The solution, tablet, and capsule form of Oxycodone can be taken with or without food, depending on the patient’s digestive system. The medicine needs to be taken every 4-6 hours to suppress pain. The extended-release tablets should not be consumed without food. They work best with food.

In the case of Hydrocodone, the initial adult dose of pain relief is a combination of Hydrocodone and Acetaminophen(5 mg / 300 mg) which should not exceed more than 8 tablets in a day. For Solution therapy dose chances to Hydrocodone 7.5mg or a combination of Hydrocodone and Acetaminophen(325mg per 15 mL). This oral solution should be taken every 4-6 hours but not more than a tablespoon at once.

Timing and duration of doses:

Oxycodone can be taken once every 4 to 6 hours or as required to manage your pain. The same criteria work in combination with other medicines like acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen. In this case, the extended versions of Oxycodone should be taken.

While talking about Hydrocodone extended-release capsules, it can be taken once every 12 hours. But in the case of extended-release tablets, it should not be taken more than once a day.
It is required to ask your medical officer whether to take it with food or without food. Drinking plenty of water is a must-do activity for the tablets to dissolve properly.

It is strictly advised not to stop consuming without your doctor’s permission. In that case, your body requires a dose of medicine but if it does not find it, and goes through withdrawal. This condition may cause irritability, headaches, and other symptoms.

The final views:

The difference between Oxycodone and Hydrocodone is very vast despite of them being used for the same purpose and having almost similar structure. There are many opinions flowing in the market regarding the best between them. But we would like to conclude by suggesting that you do not need to choose your medicine based on the internet’s view. Read and understand the workings of both medicines and discuss them with your doctor before starting the medication.

Read More:

Can You Take Hydrocodone And Ibuprofen Together?

How Long Does Oxycodone Stay In Your System? – 2023 Comprehensive Guide

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